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The Secret to Growing Your Company Faster and Easier

by Lisa Nicole Bell, Executive Producer, The American Dream Revised

Entrepreneurs relish the idea of the hockey stick growth curve – exponential revenue increases with all the trappings of success to match. We usually think of things like marketing and sales as the secrets to achieving the magical growth curve, but I’ve observed a secret of massive growth that’s constantly overlooked: leaders.

 

Think about it: a company and its team can only be as good as its leaders. You need to be able to identify, attract, and retain talent if you’re going to build a successful company. On top of that, you need to be able to develop that talent into leaders who can guide people under them to achieve the company’s vision and perform at their best.

 

So what does it mean to be a growth-inducing leader?

 

1. You are clear about your vision and objectives.

Poor leadership is often the result of a foggy vision. So, what’s your goal? Why are you in business? What’s the big idea behind what you’re doing? The more you can articulate this for yourself, the easier is it to identify opportunities to fully exemplify these things through company policies and your decisions.

 

2.  You know what’s important in a team.

Is it more important for you team to be creative or organized? Is it more important to be fast or perfect? The more you know what your values are, you can identify people who are the right fit for your company’s culture. When there is a values match between your company and your team, you’ll find everyone more engaged and more productive.

 

3. You lead by example.

Good leaders can articulate the vision and motivate people. Great leaders can embody what they teach and lead by example. As a leader, you have to constantly ask yourself if you’re setting the right example for your team. Your team will subconsciously follow your lead through your actions.

 

4. You delegate effectively.

I know this can be tough. As founders, we tend to think that nobody can do it quite like we can. But the reality is that there is probably someone who can do it better. Improper delegation leads to all kinds of problems like bottlenecks in internal processes and resentment from team members who are micromanaged. Make it a habit to constantly identify things you should be passing off to the team and empower them with the tools to do the job well. Then let them do it. You’ll be surprised what happens when you allow your leadership to do the managing for you.

 

This week, I encourage you to take inventory on yourself and your team. Are you doing the best possible job as a leader? Are you grooming leadership qualities in your team? Think about it and set some leadership-based performance goals for the next few weeks.

Secrets of Power Networking

This post is a part of a 4 part series for Rising Tide, a community designed to give Millennials the tools and access necessary for career success. Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

The word “networking” may bring up feelings of anxiety or confusion if you’ve been exposed to people who don’t really understand networking. The truth is that networking is essential to professional success. The sooner you learn to create and sustain meaningful business relationships, the sooner you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of amazing opportunities and connections.

 

Here are 4 tips to make you a better networker:

 

1. Networking happens between people.

Even when business is the main agenda, remember that you’re dealing with a person. That person has feelings, hopes, fears, and aspirations the same way you do. Approach every interaction with the other person’s goals in mind, and you’ll find it easier to connect with new people. The best way to make a great impression is to relax and put your best foot forward.

 

2. Value is networking lubricant.

It’s easier to find common ground and break the ice when you’re focused on providing value to the other party. Before a call or meeting, do your homework on the person and their company. Brainstorm ways you can add value to that person’s career. Think about expertise you have, people you know, and upcoming opportunities.

 

3. The fortune is the follow up.

It’s one thing to connect with awesome people and form connections. It’s another to build solid relationships that serve you for years. Forming relationships requires ongoing communication and exchanges. Be sure to follow up with new people shortly after you meet them and periodically check in to say hello and ask how you can be helpful.

 

4. Keep your digital identity current.

Take time once per quarter to check all of your social media profiles and be sure they’re current. This is especially important for LinkedIn where hiring managers frequently run searches to find talent.

 

Use these tips to become a networking master. Remember that it’s not just who you know; it’s who knows you.

 

Dressing for Success

This post is a part of a 4 part series for Rising Tide, a community designed to give Millennials the tools and access necessary for career success. Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s often said that clothes don’t make the man, but the truth is that appearance matters. Whether we like or not, we’re often judged based on how we look and the image we project. As a Millennial, you probably want your personality to shine through in your wardrobe and appearance, but you don’t want to jeopardize your chances of getting the perfect job.

 

Here are some key things to remember when you’re dressing for success:

 

1. Cleanliness is a must.

As basic as it sounds, you must always been as clean and neat as possible. Fortunately, there are great products like Tide that help you keep your clothes in top shape.

 

2. Opportunity can knock anytime.

You may be presented with the opportunity of a lifetime at the moment you least expect. It’s important to always leave the house looking your best and feeling confident in your appearance.

 

3. Use color carefully.

While black and navy are traditionally accepted business colors, it’s perfectly fine to use color as a means of spicing up a drab wardrobe. Remember that color is meant to complement your image as a professional rather than distract from it.

 

Make getting dressed a part of your personal brand development. Always put your best foot forward.

3 Things You Should Never Do on Social Media

This post is a part of a 4 part series for Rising Tide, a community designed to give Millennials the tools and access necessary for career success. Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

The current digital landscape has created an interesting set of challenges for Millennials. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to find information and connect with people all over the world. Social networking sites can deliver hours of entertainment, discussion, and interactions.

 

But with the good comes the bad. There are people who abuse social media and end up hurting themselves in the process. You shouldn’t be one of those people so follow these 3 rules of social media:

 

1. Avoid oversharing.

It’s easy to get comfortable sharing personal information since our followers online are usually family members and friends. Still, there is a such thing as too much sharing. Strangers can access your information and form opinions about you without ever personally knowing you. Avoid sharing too much information.

 

2. Never say anything you wouldn’t say in person.

The internet makes it easy to feel anonymous and powerful. However, it can also create a lot of drama. Social media is powered by people so remember that before you criticize someone, repeat gossip you heard, or say something rude. Treat people respectfully the way you would offline.

 

3. Remember that you’re being watched.

Even when you think no one is paying attention, you’re being watched. Take the time to think about what you’re saying before hitting “send” on your posts. You don’t want to put information online that could prevent you from getting your next job or forming a great connection.

 

Run your social media activities through personal and professional filters. The most important thing to remember is that digital content lives forever. Use your virtual power wisely.

How to Balance Your Job and Your Dream

This post is a part of a 4 part series for Rising Tide, a community designed to give Millennials the tools and access necessary for career success. Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Many people who work a traditional job have a secret dream that they harbor. Sometimes it’s a childhood dream that was never realized and other times, it’s a dream that simply leverages their natural talents and preferences more accurately. Regardless of where the dream began, you can start working toward your dream today.

 

Mindset expert Earl Nightengale described success as “the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” That means that you’re a success if you’ve set a goal for yourself and you’re actively working towards it. When balancing your job and your dream, it’s important to think strategically. Ask yourself the following questions:

 

-How can my current job make me more effective in fulfilling my dream?

-What can I learn in my current job that will help me succeed when I achieve my dream?

-Who can I network with now that will position me to succeed at my dream?

-What are the key steps I need to take now to achieve my dream?

 

A dream without the appropriate action is just a wish. Even if you’re working full time and have other responsibilities, you can take small, daily actions toward achieving your goals. Here’s a blueprint for achieving your dream, even if you’ve got a full time job:

1. Refine your vision. Think carefully about what you want to have and why. Develop a clear picture of what you’re working toward in your mind’s eye.

 

2. Create a list of goals. Based on your vision, build a set of goals to work toward. Create short term and long term goals.

 

3.  Plan your action steps. Break out the actions you need to take to achieve your goals in yearly, monthly, and weekly tasks. Check your action plan daily to continue moving forward.

 

4. Stay open and optimistic. You never know how your dream may unfold so keep a great attitude, work hard, and trust that your patience and vision will pay off.

 

Get started today on making your dream a reality!

Fuel for Your Dream: Pharrell Williams – Be On It

Every now and then, you need a reminder that your dreams matter and they’re leading some place special. Our executive producer, Bridgette Wright, stumbled upon this awesome video and thought you should see it. Whip out pen and paper and take notes – there are important points in this video. Enjoy!

 

Passion vs Purpose: How to Choose What to Pursue

During a recent trip to Chicago to keynote a conference, I was stopped in the hallway by a man who wanted to get my thoughts on how he could evaluate his passion and determine whether it was a meaningful pursuit.

 

I gave him as thoughtful of a response as I could in the moment, but as I reflected on the day that evening, I realized that this is a layered issue that many people are facing.

 

After all, the happiness that comes with doing the things we want to do has to be balanced with the necessity of doing work that’s important. Legacies are built on a willingness to not trade what we want now for what we want most.

 

So how do we evaluate our activities, projects, and careers for this deeper meaning? How do we choose between two equally great opportunities?

 

Here are a few things to consider in the pursuit of passion and purpose:

 

1. Will you regret not doing this in the future?

When there are multiple options, this question helps clarify what means the most to you. If you had a limited time to live, how would you choose to use your working hours? Identify the project you’d regret not pursuing and make it a priority.

 

2. How does doing this work enrich your life?

Are you choosing one line of work because it feels good or because it actually makes your better? How does the work positively impact your life? How does the work stretch you and improve your character?

 

3. How does doing this work enrich the lives of others?

Do other people benefit from the work? Will the work outlive you? Service is the rent we pay for living on the planet. If no one benefits from what you’re creating, it’s time to rethink or reframe the work.

 

Even if you have a career you love, these questions are worth answering. Contemplate your passion and stay in alignment with your purpose!

 

Lisa Nicole Bell is the director and executive producer of The American Dream Revised. She is the CEO of Inspired Life Media Group where she and her team conceive, develop, and produce original premium multiplatform content. Learn more about her at www.lisanicolebell.com.

You Need More Than Smarts and Talent to Succeed in Business

There’s a nasty myth lurking among the talented and creative people in the world. The people who believe it are losing clients, missing out on opportunities, and earning less money.

 

The myth is this: “You don’t have to be nice or likeable as long as you do amazing work.”

 

It’s just not true.

 

What’s true is that it doesn’t matter how good you are if your personality sucks. And there’s no substitute for building great relationships in business. This can’t be overstated. There are some super talented, genius types in the world who seem to have a steady flow of gigs and clients no matter what. But how much money are they missing out on by being obnoxious, rude, condescending, or cold?

 

Actress Cameron Diaz is a textbook case of why it pays to be fun to be around. While talented, she certainly is not the most talented actress in Hollywood. So why has she worked steadily since 1992? She’s a blast to be around. Producers, directors, and co-stars all love being around her. She’s type of person they’d want to hang out with offset, so naturally, if given the chance, they want to work with over and over again.

 

Relationships are the currency of a thriving business. Here are 3 super simple tips to help you fully maximize your talent:

 

1. Smile.

I know it seems basic, but ask yourself, how often do you smile at your clients/customers? Do you smile when you’re on the phone with them? Do you smile when you greet them? Even if you’re in a serious industry or you’re not a smiley person, a warm smile can go a long way to enhancing your business relationships.

 

2. Remember who’s paying who.

Even if you feel a client is being unreasonable, it’s important to never lose sight of the fact that they’re paying you. Not only are they paying you, they represent referral dollars and testimonials. If you find that a client is unbearable to work with and you can’t be pleasant with them, see #3.

 

3. Fire bad clients.

Yes, you read that correctly. Fire bad clients. The bad clients in your business are almost always more trouble than they are worth. They ask for more than they pay for, they make a mountain out of every molehill, and they cause strife for you and your team. The firing doesn’t have to be done with ill will; it’s done from a place of power. You release that client to work with a firm that can or will meet all of their demands while you free yourself up to better serve your great clients. After all, it’s easier to be nice and cheerful when you’re working with clients you love.

 

Remember: Talent can’t take you everywhere. Relationships can.